A Conversation with Nancy Jo Sales

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You mention in the preface of your book how the themes of “…obsession with celebrity, entitlement of rich kids and the emptiness of fame as an aspiration”  were actually the same themes that Sofia Coppola had been exploring in her films.

Q- This behavior is so fascinating to us. Do you want to add anything to make it clearer as to why?

Rich people and rich kids seem to have always been fascinating, since Shakespeare’s time and beyond. I think we want to know what happens to people when the gods smile on them with great material rewards. The result, to our perverse delight, is often disastrous. I think that now, when we are living in a time when the distribution of wealth in this country is so incredibly skewed toward the wealthy, there is some perverse fascination with seeing the rich and mighty act horribly. It’s class resentment, perhaps justified at some level.

Q- Do  you feel the message you sent your readers was kept intact with the movie version of it?
I feel like the themes in the movie and book are very much the same: celebrity obsession, conspicuous consumption, the changing nature of fame in an age of reality TV…. Many of the lines in the movie come straight from the real dialogue of the kids—which I think was a great decision on Sofia Coppola’s part; she recognized how funny and crazy a lot of the actual lines were, and how telling. Like Nick Prugo (Marc in the film) saying, “We just wanted to be a part of the lifestyle—the lifestyle that everybody kind of wants.” Questioning “the lifestyle” itself and the assumption that “we all want it” is probably the biggest theme in my book and in the film.

Q- Would  you change anything about the Bling Ring if you were to start all over?
I’d make Rachel Lee give me an interview. She was the alleged ringleader, but her lawyer refused everyone access to her. I’d also give myself a year, at least, to write the book instead of six months.

Q-  Given all of the incredible authors out there… whom do you consider a mentor?
I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of journalists I admire very much, including Kurt Andersen and Graydon Carter, my bosses at New York magazine and Vanity Fair. But I’ve never really had a mentor per se… I find myself reading and re-reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which for me is the best master class on journalistic non-fiction.

Q- What was the most difficult thing about writing the Bling Ring and what was your take away?
The most difficult thing was the deadline. Six months—two of which were spent doing follow-up reporting, so really four months to write a 288-page book… It was hard. But so worth it. When I see Instagram pictures by kids in Brazil, where it’s now a best-seller, holding my book, it feels so great. And kids here sending me emails saying things like, “Thanks, I’m so glad someone said these things.” My take-away is that young people are really ready to talk about how fame culture and conspicuous consumption are out of control, and they want to focus their attention on more important and meaningful things.

Q- What puts you in a creative mood?
When I’m reporting a great story it’s always really inspiring.

Q- Tell us something about Nancy Jo Sales that nobody would guess.
I can make the most delicious Thanksgiving turkey you’ve ever eaten. People’s eyes roll back in their heads.

Q- What is your proudest achievement?
Having a daughter on my own, especially one who’s turning out to be such a great person; I’m not sure I can really take a lot credit for that, though. She’s been great since day one.

Q- Your most annoying habit?
I try not to be annoying! But probably the way I argue, when I feel passionate about something. I don’t back down, and I do insist.

Q- Your favorite indulgence?
I love to watch classic film noir movies on my computer, way past my bedtime, or stay up reading noir novels and thrillers.

Lifting a quote from the Bling Ring..

“The Bling Ring had crossed a final Rubicon, entering famous people’s homes, and their boldness felt both disturbing and somehow inevitable…..”

Thank you, Nancy Jo Sales, for taking us on a rafting trip down the Rubicon of Rodeo Drive.

THANK YOU!

i.0.the-bling-ring-nancy-jo-sales

A Conversation with Jessica Moore

JESSICA MOORE

We are excited to introduce Jessica Moore. We listened with rapt attention to this multi-faceted lifestyle and communications beauty.

Q- How did you become interested in beauty?

I am an actress, and became fascinated by the way, say, a red lipstick could make you feel powerful. Lipstick is not called war paint for nothing. I loved the way older ladies put their lips on everyday, without fail, and I loved the glamour of the old black and white movies. From a perfume perspective, I loved the perfumes that tell a story, like Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleu, which was a memento fragrance created during WWI, and which captures the melancholy of the time. It was created for soldiers to bring to their sweethearts back home, and soldiers on the front doused handkerchiefs with it to keep the scent with them, as a reminder of what they were fighting for. There’s a lovely sort of cultural story behind many of the beauty rituals we do. And yet, the perfume is still very wearable today. I also love pointing women towards something truly lovely and luxurious-which doesn’t necessarily mean La Mer. I am a sucker for luxe, but love discovering a drugstore brand that is super accessible. I love a beautiful perfume that anyone can find. Of course, we are in a niche perfume moment, and I love going to small boutiques and finding not so common perfumes, too. People want to express individuality in perfume.  One of my favorite apothecaries in NY is MiN-which carries amazing stuff. I wear Cashmere Mist to bed every night as my lullaby. I carry a vial of Jo Malone’s grapefruit, because my late mother wore it. Scents are home to me. My grandfather was a Don Draper type who had several patents, and created some of the most iconic brand packaging of the 50s to the 70s. He launched Youth Dew.The blue bottle is his. So is Jean Nate after Bath splash. I get a thrill every time I see them. It’s a link to my family history. I like to document, but also share my love.

Q- Tell us a little bit about your work?

I have a small Startup called Girl About Town, which covers my lifestyle/communications/beauty background. Last year, I developed an ecommerce cosmetics line from product to marketing to digital. I was really proud of it-It wasn’t a success, but it taught me a lot, and it taught me what I would like to do. I love beauty blogging, but I would love my own fragrance.It’s in development now, with a very well known nose. I am really excited. I have been a beauty editor for several large online beauty publications, and have been working on a fragrance memoir based on my family. Beauty to me fulfills the storytelling that I love, and have built my life around. Acting,beauty, new media-it all has a throughline to me. I have been performing in NY theater  since I was 15, and am really proud of the work I did there, but I found myself more and more drawn to writing after a car accident kept me in bed. It snowballed, and I am really happy it did. I have worked as a a stylist for several big companies such as J.Crew and Banana Republic. I love making women feel beautiful. Taking a woman afraid of color and showing her she could look lovely in a green sweater after wearing only black for years? To me-that made my day. I also worked for Glorious Food-which is one of the most exquisite catering companies in NY-some parties included the Costume Institute Ball, and The NYCB parties.We worked with Robert Isabell, and David Stark-and this creates an eye, you see. I believe function can be beautiful, and everyone needs the lift that even something simple, like a cup of great coffee, or the softest sheets, or a gathering of friends with cocktails can give. My acting mentor greeted me every class with “Life is beautiful.” I kind’ve carry that idea with me.

Q- Which projects /products are you most proud of?

I wrote a piece for a perfume blog called CaFleurebon called “Steeped in Youth Dew: My Grandfather called her Estee.” I had actually been a beauty/ fragrance editor for several years, and remembered vague family stories, but had never realized the extent of my grandfather’s work. Doing the research opened up a whole new world-his company, Richford Corp, owned all the patents for cosmetics packqaging, including the perfume atomizer used commonly today. He died young, and my father and uncles could only fill in so many blanks. That piece ended up being archived at Estee Lauder, and I imagined my grandpa smiling.To me, writing about perfume links me to him. It’s very personal. And I am proud of starting Girl About Town-which is something I’ve wanted for a long time.

Q- How would you describe your own style?

Well-this is a hard one. I really like little references to old movie stars. When I worked at Banana Republic, I was dressed in a lot of Mad Men-esque dresses. I also went through a Holly Golightly phase of LBD’s, and kept only champagne in my fridge. Recently-it’s been a bit more fun and casual, since I have been traveling a lot. I love a sweater dress, and there’s a distinct 90s influence.Today I am wearing some really cute combat boots. Usually, though-I like black. Give me anything in black, and I can make it look expensive. I love interesting shapes and soft fabrics. I am obsessed with my Donna Karan cashmere Cozy-which is a cardigan that can be worn as a wrap, tied, and…used as a blanket when traveling. I hate being cold. I would love to say I am Gwyneth Paltrow Urban Chic, and have my moments, but I’m from Rhinebeck, so the urban hippie is showing through these days. I think my next phase will be more urban sleek. I have a pair of black wedge boots I have my eye on. I like the names of course, but I love taking something and elevating it. I am so sad Loehmann’s is going, but the reality is-sites like MyHabit and The Outnet are such great places to find showstoppers. I will never have a full name closet, but a few pieces I love will always be worn.I hate the status bag movement.I cannot justify thousands on a season bag-but it’s important to trust your eye and not be afraid to experiment. But then, I would always prefer someone looking a little risky to looking boring. Good taste always needs a touch of bad. I think Diana Vreeland said that.

Q- Who was your mentor?

My mother was an excellent example. She grew up the daughter of a single mother, but loved Jackie O., Grace Kelly, Kim Novak. She marched in Washington in a twinset and gloves, and really lived like her idea of a lady. She was the president of her art department, and had absolutely exquisite taste. I grew up in this old Colonial upstate that was her permanent project. She really lovingly restored it herself, and I remember helping.To this day-I am very handy. I once hung a door in an emergency in a cocktail dress and heels.One of my proudest moments. She didn’t believe in paying retail, but she had Pucci’s, Ralph Lauren’s Safari Collection, Diane Von Furstenburg’s wrap dresses….these of course were mixed with less expensive pieces, but she was so glamorous that I asked her not to wear her high heeled Aigner boots to pick me up in school at age 6. She caused a commotion. My twin and I were photographed by Bill Cunningham at a Broadway show-this makes sense to me as an adult.She was so beautiful, and was wearing this spaghetti strap chevron striped dress. I don’t have the picture any longer, but the image stays. She was the epitome of lovely. She actually had a bit of Bohemia in her. I was very,very lucky to have her.

Q- Your idea of great style?

It’s very easy to have great style when you have a stylist, and a team. But great style to me is when a woman uses her individuality to express herself using whatever she can. I love a girl who can shop anywhere, from Target to H&M to Ebay.We all love the stuff we see in magazines, but it’s fantasy. I do believe in fantasy as inspiration. One of my friends is a young girl who cosplays, and I love the influences from anime that creep into her clothes.She’s fearless in her mixing-she was wearing a scarf dresss with an obi last summer, and it looked great. I also love someone like Cate Blanchett-who I believe is one of the few movie stars who LOOKS like a movie star. She’s very conscious of it. And she has great taste. Great style comes about when a woman accepts herself and her life. There’s nothing worse than a Louboutined girl who can’t get around NYC-which is a walking city. However-I dream of McQueen.

Q- What puts you in a creative mood?

Sleep? Just kidding. I am careful with my sleep because being tired keeps creativity at bay, but it’s really important to nurture yourself, and surround yourself with smart, interesting, engaging people. Tea and meditation help me to relax. A long bath with bubbles, I take myself to the Met, and see movies and drink good wine. The key is making sure your life is filled with new experiences. Also-write an hour a day, no censoring. It won’t be good, but you will use that muscle.I also usually have an acting coach. It’s really important to set aside creative time-otherwise it gets buried.

Q- What is something about you nobody would guess?

I am a college student at Hunter College studying neuropsych.

Q- Favorite indulgence?

New restaurants, and expensive bubble bath. Massages.

Q- Your most annoying habit?

I have so many! I talk too much. I am a talker.

Q- How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who was a joy to be around, As someone who shared her lessons, As someone who made life beautiful. As someone who created memories.

Well we certainly can say that you are a joy to be around.

Thank you for the memories Jess.

Find: Aromaflage

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Melissa Fensterstock is Co-Founder of Mikey & Momo, the guys behind the brand Aromaflage. Melissa, and her husband Michael, were on their honeymoon to South East Asia, and they discovered a magic potion that worked as an insect repellent and perfume at the same time. Both Mike and Melissa have been long time entrepreneurs (and Melissa has graduated from Harvard Business School) and they love the idea of building your brand together around a fragrance with a function. Won’t it be great if every honeymoon came with a new business? SHOP IT HERE

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